|Type:||Trad, Alpine, 1200', Grade III|
|Original:||YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]|
|Submitted By:||kenr on Sep 18, 2013|
|Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>|
|Comments on North Ridge of Matthes Crest||Add Comment|
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Sep 19, 2013
My questions for the Matthes Crest as a climbing peak were: What are the most remarkable rock structures and interesting climbing sequences? How can I do those in the most fun way? How can I make sure I don't run out of time or weather before I get to those?
I had already done lots of nice ridge-traverse routes in Europe and USA, so I wasn't mainly interested to just "tick off" one more. Instead I wanted to experience what makes Matthes special.
My answers so far are that the most interesting rock and climbing are on the North ridge. The most fun way to experience those (like most rock moves) is in the upward direction -- easier to work out on-sight, easier to protect. The obvious way not to "miss out" is to start with the best climbing.
Climb the North Ridge in the upward direction N->S, that's the idea I've tried to describe in detail here above. (Not a new idea: climbing Matthes from the north was suggested in 2002 by John Moynier + Claude Fiddler in their guidebook Climbing California's High Sierra, page 357).
But isn't the North Ridge already included in the Traverse S-to-N route?
Yes in theory - (though in a direction unfavorable both for on-sight and for protecting).
No in practice: Most rope parties start from the South then stop at the N summit (or sooner). So they get neither anything like a complete traverse of the Crest, nor much of the best climbing which is most unique to Matthes.
The main reason I know for starting at the S end is because it doesn't seem much fun to finish a full traverse by down-climbing those South-most three or two pitches. (Not good enough reason for me, especially since most roped parties do not come even close to finishing a complete traverse of the Crest.)
Another advantage of having the North ridge as a distinct route is that it spreads the traffic.
. . description and Comments, also detailed topo diagrams in
. . SuperTopo guidebook (either 2004 or 2013 edition).
. . Or for an easier fun ridge with a shorter pretty hike,
. . might want to consider this peak .
(Not sure how this would help, but R.J.Secor guidebook reports a class 5 route on the East side of the N summit.)
Sep 20, 2013
Variation 2: This is a way to completely avoid both mini-towers, along with avoiding the wide flat section of the ridge which is N or the mini-towers. (A less radical way to avoid the mini-towers is Variation 1 in the Description above.)
alternate Start: To use Variation 2 as an alternate start of the climbing, after hiking the Approach to get S past the Echo Peaks and Echo Ridge, hike farther S down along below the W side of the Matthes Crest. You will see the two highest summits roughly at the middle of the Crest. and you can also see lots more of the ridge north of those highest points -- and two mini-tower points (much lower than the two summits) well north of the summits. About 75-100 yards S of those mini-towers, see an area of weakness in the rock of the west face just below the ridge.
Climb up into this, then through a small notch, and up gully above with loose rock about 25-35 ft, finally sharp L onto a ramp up NE to crest of the ridge - (mostly class 3, a couple moves class 4).
alternate Descent: To find Variation 2 as a descent ... after down-climbing most of the North ridge, and a ways after the exciting (avoidable) overhanging traverse on the E side -- but still a ways before reaching the two mini-towers ...
Meet the narrowest fin-with-vertical-sides so far on the Crest. There might be a cairn of rocks down in a floor crack in the notch at the south end of that fin.
From that notch, diagonal back toward the south, on a gently descending traverse, soon reaching a ramp, for say 35-50 feet. Then straight down a wide gully with some loose rock in its center -- down like 25-40 ft there is a little notch in the rock at the bottom of the gully, just below a pit which accumulates loose rock. Down through this notch (class 4 move on slopy footholds and unusual but positive-enough hands). Next move a bit N (descender's right) (class 4?) to more positive holds (including many side-pulls and a couple of underclings). Then down and down whichever way seems to fit your down-climbing style and avoids loose rocks.
Returning N to the trailhead from here might be easier by the shoulder (lat/long ~ N37.8373 W119.4060) around the W side of Echo Peaks (instead of going over Wilts Col).
Oct 24, 2014
North end of South mini-tower:
Charles and I spent some time working on this section while climbing the N ridge last summer. Here's what I took away from it:
The N arete and the E side of the arete looked way more difficult than anything else on the Matthes Crest N ridge or S ridge.
Which left the NorthWest side ...
We found it was easier to first traverse around to its W side, perhaps after dropping down 10 feet below notch, then rising traverse on narrow ledge. Charles got some protection with smaller cams. Then he went for the straight-up crack which finishes roughly at the summmit -- width range 1-2 inches, took standard protection fairly well. He said it was pretty satisfying to lead. I felt the difficulty was around 5.7-5.8.
Then I thought about future visits to this amazing ridge, when I might want to go in the opposite direction. I'm not such an experienced crack climber, so I wanted to find an alternative to down-climbing that crack. Much thanks to Charles for taking the time to belay me while I explored ...
From the summit of the South mini-tower I went easily down a ways on the N arete, found a diagonal rail which rises from S to N across the NW face up to the middle of the N arete. Substantial rail with somewhat positive gripping -- but nothing positive on the face either above or below it. Tried using the rail in different ways. Different ways worked, and felt intimidating + exciting. Did not seem very protectable.
A little later some other guy came by soloing in the S->N direction. What I seem to remember watching is that he went partway down the N arete, then continued down the NW face without using the rail, somewhere on the face between the rail and the arete.
. (Anyway this section is avoidable by using Variation 1 in the main description above (or by Variation 2 in the Comment above).
Aug 14, 2015
matthess from the north is the same route as doing it from the south....
the towers are optional...
Jul 4, 2016
A double rope rappel is unnecessary to rappel from the north tower.
60 m works great in 3 easy raps to the base.
Close the system knot your ends and rap with them clipped as it is a bit windy.
Very straightforward and 1 rope is certainly nicer on the walk out rather than 2.
By Anthony O'Neill
From: Northern CO
Aug 20, 2016
|Is the jury still out on this single vs double rope rap situ?|
Aug 20, 2016
Rappeling off the North summit:
Here's some careful instructions which Steven Cooney sent me - (after getting down the West face of the North summit by rappels with a single 60-meter rope in early June 2016) . . .
Need to be sure your rope is a full 60 meters -- no cutting off some from an end.
First rappel is 15 feet from the summit register. There is a large flake that you step down to. Very sturdy slings and rings.
2nd rappel is from a solid flake/slings and rings, skiers left (south) 30 meters down.
3rd rappel is sturdy juniper 30 meters down songs and rings.
Down climb honest 4th class, or rappel again to base.
Was very slick, no hang ups.
Be certain to "close the system": Knot your rope ends, as the rappels are a full 30 meters.
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See also this Discussion Forum thread).